Ecuador OverlookThe Quechua language family (the Indigenous languages of South America) is growing. More people speak Quechua now than in Incan times, including several million in Ecuador.

Working Together“Minga” is a Quichua word that represents the idea of a collective work effort and expresses the indigenous society’s value of reciprocity.

Stick LoomThe stick loom which is still used in many places today, was invented in the Andes region of South America between 4 and 5 thousand years ago.

Wool DryingThe majority of weavers in Ecuador are men.

indegenousThere are at least 82 different indigenous language groups in South America.

KnittersIt may take a weaver up to three months to knot the fringes of a traditional paño shawl.

Llama FurLlama fiber is warm like sheep’s wool but is lighter in weight and does not shrink.

KnitterSouth Americans have been knitting for thousands of years, but it was a Peace Corps project in the 1960’s that got the modern industry off the ground.

Panama HatPanama hats are not from Panama. They are made in Ecuador where they’re called sombreos de paja toquilla and are named after the palm fiber from which they are woven

PonchoThe modern-day poncho is an adaptation of the traditional Inca tuni.

LoomA belt woven on the traditional backstrap loom can take as long as four days to complete.

LlamaLlama wool is naturally hypoallergenic because it contains almost no Lanolin and can be worn by babies and those with allergies to sheep’s wool.

TextilesIn the Inca empire, specially chosen women dedicated their lives to weaving fine textiles, some of which were used in ritual offerings to the sun.

ChildrenIn South America, families may start training children traditional weaving skills as early as 3 years of age.

LoomWeaving a blanket on the backstrap loom can take over a week to complete.

TextilesThe Incas so highly valued fine textiles, that when conducting a census, they rated them more highly than precious metals, gemstones, ceramics, or food

PotteryAmazonians invented clay pottery around 4000 BC. Before any other South American cultures.

PotteryIn the Amazon basin, basket weaving is traditionally a male craft, while pottery making is done by the women.

PotteryThe production and sale of ceramics from the Amazon region has given many women the means to provide income for their families and a greater degree of power over their lives.

LlamasLlamas and Alpacas were domesticated in South America over 4000 years ago and were central to the success of the Incan empire.

VicunaThe Vicuña is a relative of the llama and produces the finest quality fleece. It has never been tamed and can only survive in the wild.

AlpacaLlama and Alpaca fleece grows about four inches per year and an adult coat yields 3 to 8 pounds of wool each year.

TextilesThe earliest textiles in South America have been dated from 8600 BC. Some have more than 200 threads per square inch, finer than most modern materials!

Inca EmpireThe Incan Empire is believed to have encompassed about 1/3 of South America’s population.

PanfluteThe Ecuadorian Panpipe dates back at least 2000 years. Made of varying lengths of cane or bamboo tied together in a row-it is called rondador, after the night watchmen who played the instrument on their rounds.

Backstrap LoomThe backstrap loom was invented in South America, and got its name because it is strapped to the weavers back to adjust the tension by moving their body.

YarnMany South American families still practice the entire traditional wool-making process, which includes:hand-cutting, washing, carding, dying, and weaving which can take several days.

AlpacasLlamas and Alpacas produce fleece in a variety of colors (such as brown, black, tan, white, grey, or red) and the wool may be used naturally, without dying.